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Fallout 3 - Fallout 3

By Stuart Andrews



  • Recommended by TR
Fallout 3


Our Score:


Another thing Fallout 3 does brilliantly is to fit in the sort of game mechanics RPG fans expect, but execute them in a way that doesn't constantly drag you from the game world. Oblivion's inventory screens and quest journal are replaced by the PIPBoy 3000; a stylish, vintage, wrist-bound PDA that gives you all the options and information you need to go adventuring. You can use it to equip weapons or armour, take stimpacks or eat food or check the map or the details of your current quest, and you never feel like you're taking a break from the Fallout world. This sort of thinking permeates the whole game. If something can be shown or done within the game world, rather than an onscreen prompt or HUD item, it is. Stuck in town and can't find the local supply store? Check out the signposts and you'll soon be able to find it.

Of course, the major challenge in a modern, real-time RPG is to produce a combat system that doesn't appear ludicrous or slow paced but still gives the player more to do than just point and shoot. Mass Effect struggled with this last year, and while Bioshock's plasmids and combat skills were a nod towards the RPG, that game was still first and foremost an FPS. Fallout 3 covers both bases brilliantly. You can point a gun at the nearest killer dog or angry mutant and shoot, but you'll struggle in all but the most basic combat situations. The trick is VATS - the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. Squeeze the right trigger at any time and the action pauses, allowing you to select targets and individual body parts at your leisure before returning to real time and firing. Your chance of hitting and the damage you do are managed by good old-fashioned statistics, and a system of action points prevents you from squeezing headshot after headshot after headshot. Best of all, using VATS successful results in a nice visual payoff. Deal a crippling blow to the skull or an extremity and you can watch it get blown or smacked off in glorious slow-motion. It's grim and it's unnecessarily gory but, boy, is it fun.

Is it as much fun as a good firefight in Gears of War 2 (full review coming soon) or Call of Duty 4? Maybe not, but then the pleasures of Fallout 3 go way beyond combat. This is, above all else, a quest and narrative based game, where dialogue is as effective a way forward in many situations as blasting, and where the use of hacking skills or subterfuge can give you options that mean you don't actually have to do the fighting yourself. At any one time you'll probably have multiple quests on the go, some linked to the main plotline, some that take you on bizarre tangents that, oddly, feel just as important. There's the sort of freedom to go where you want and do what you wish that you'd expect from an RPG, and Bethesda has made the Washington area rich in things to do and enemies to kill, without going too far and making every journey a wandering monster nightmare (though the use of an instant travel feature helps alleviate that sort of thing anyway).

John 9

November 9, 2008, 1:47 pm

Play.com 㿄.99


November 9, 2008, 5:59 pm

This is a really smart review Stuart, definitely one of the better ones I've come across (and there are enough around at the moment).

Having been completely hooked on Fallout 3 since launch, I finally completed the main quest this morning, but only after some 60 odd hours of exploration, interaction and combat - none of which felt like a necessary chore as is the tendancy with some RPGs.

I think if you're the gamer who will pick this gem up and want to blitz through the main quest just seeking out the end goal, you'll miss so much of what makes Fallout 3 a great title. Exploring the capital wasteland at random and checking out every "dungeon" you come across amazingly doesn't feel like you are just revisiting small variations of the same map. Almost every one has some uniqueness to it, like it exists as part of the wider world and not just as a necessity to pick up some loot and XP to bolster your strength for the main quest.

This is something I felt Oblivion (depsite being an extremely enjoyable game) suffered quite noticably from. Here, in place of deja vu inspiring Oblivion portals and caves, we have schools, hotels, hospitals, offices, major D.C. landmark buildings, museums, factories, libraries, shops, subway stations, tunnels, shanty towns, sewers, caves and the vaults. It's really quite a wide array of places to investigate. The really cool thing for me is how they pulled this sense of variety off amidst a setting comprised almost entirely of dingy grey/brown scorched ruins... It's no mean feat.

It's hard to talk too much about without giving away things that you want others to experience for themselves, but there are some stand out moments that really define Fallout 3 for me. One is a certain epic action sequence near the end, but the one that really sticks in my mind is leaving Vault 101 for the first time early on in the game. As you walk out into the wasteland, you find yourself on a hill overlooking the remnants of the Washington D.C area, with the sun illuminating a dusty yellow sky over the horizon and a landscape of scorched ruins, rusting vehicles and an endless field of cracked rocks and roads. From the background noises of the vault that your character spent the first 19 years of his/her life in, you emerge only to the sound of the wind howling across the crumbling relics of a civilisation that is no more. It's a particularly eerie moment where you are left feeling completely alone amongst the utter devestation. For me it felt just as well crafted as being thrust out into City 17 of Half Life 2, or Andrew Ryan presenting Bioshock's Rapture in all its glory. It's that one snapshot that immediately delivers what the game's world is all about.

Aside from the character animation quirkiness that Stuart mentions, there is a complaint I've seen that the game world is slightly geographically smaller than Oblivion, but it didn't feel it to me (it's still around 16 square miles). Bethesda really have created a stunningly deep and detailed environment here... both in terms of visuals and substance. After finishing the story today, I went to find a map online to see if there were many locations I had missed out on. I was amazed to find I had put all this time and effort into the game, and still hadn't been to 3-4 of the major locations, and dozens of the smaller dungeon style areas. I didn't even stumble across Dogmeat during this play through either.

I can also understand the "Oblivion with guns" comments that are being thrown around by some people - having the same developers using the same engine for the same genre is obviously going to breed some similarties. But more than just the weaponary, the world, the plot, the characters, the artistic style, the humour, the choices and the experiences are a different beast entirely. In all respects it's a far darker game than Oblivion was.

All in all I'd recommend it very highly, but as Stuart points out, only to those who can spend more than a few hours playing it. Though it's definitely not a casual pick up and play action fest, given some investment it will give you one of the most memorable gaming experiences of recent times. The issues that do exist are completely obliterated by the quality of the overall experience... Don't miss it.


November 9, 2008, 9:10 pm

@John - It's 㿄.99 for the PC version, not for the PlayStation 3 version that Stu reviewed. The PS3 version is 㿓.99 on Play.


November 9, 2008, 11:33 pm

@life With yours and Stuarts glowing reviews, I now really want to play this game. Thanks for adding your thoughts - they were very illuminating.

Gavin Hamer

November 10, 2008, 5:15 am

Why aren't the formats available and the format reviewed stated in the header? I appreciate that the versions are now stated in bold at the top of the first page of each review now (which is a vast improvement on the old system of making people guess the version) but if you've got the price in the header, then you need the format in the header.

Matthew Bunton

November 10, 2008, 12:41 pm

Maybe it's just me but it just feels like Oblivion in a Post apocalyptic setting.


November 10, 2008, 3:33 pm

Very good review, I agree with all Stuarts comments. It is a game that you have to put a lot of time into (I got it on launch fday from sainsburys and havent got that far through at the moment) and the animations are laughable at times, but it is such an engrossing game that I dont notice when Ive been playing for 2-3 hours at a time and I can see myself playing this for quite a long time...


November 10, 2008, 9:52 pm

Nice review. I'm about 20hours in and enjoying it more and more. It's a great game, I didn't really care for Oblivion but Fall Out 3 is right up my street.

It runs well to. (PC)


March 4, 2009, 3:28 am

This review brings up a couple of good points as well


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